A Haven of Sustainable Living, København. Denmark
Ever wondered how a city expands so much and at the same time tops the lists of the world's most sustainable cities with an ambitious goal to be fossil free by 2050? It all starts with a sustainable ethos right from the architectural designs of your living space, open space and workspace whether you are building a new home or commercial office or renovating existing ones.
Copenhagen is the world’s most liveable city and home of sustainable buildings. The point is not that it’s one the expensive cities, but rather that the city has large number of green and open spaces with fresh air, short travel times, efficient infrastructure and public transport - and is a bicycle haven. It achieves high levels of social and cultural interaction, provides the best conditions for people and therefore has the highest quality of life.
As an eco-tourist, it’s not surprising that I have a love for architecture and design-led thinking. When travelling in Scandinavia this summer I fell in love with architectural designs in Copenhagen, especially the Ørestad area in Copenhagen, buildings by a specific architect Bjarke Ingels. At just 40 years old, this Danish architect is the youngest architect ever to be invited to deliver the speech at London's prestigious Royal Academy of Arts. Lately he has won projects to redesign downtown Manhattan and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
He leads the successful architecture firm BIG in Ørestad, who is the mastermind behind buildings including the 8 House, the Mountain Dwellings, and the VM house. Water, space, sustainability and light are the key elements in their world-class architecture. Many of the buildings are quite quirky in some way with spiky balconies, terrace decks with evergreen vegetations- most of them are focused on functionality and creating liveable spaces.
Passive design principles helps to increase the quality of life.
I’m with Bjarke Ingels: “Sustainability is a creative opportunity to shape design and increase the quality of life.”
Passive design is the key to sustainable building. It responds to local climate and site conditions to maximise building users’ comfort and health while minimising energy use. Building features such as daylight, views, connection to nature and spaces for social interaction helps to improve general comfort, satisfaction and health.
The VM HOUSES incorporates passive design principles designed by Bjarke Ingels (BIG), Julien de Smedt (JDS Architects) and Plot. The building was completed in 2005 and was one of the first housing estates, which was erected in Ørestad City.
The VM HOUSES were named after the shape of the housing blocks when viewed from the air, namely the letters V and M.
They are characterised by the triangular balconies on the south facade of the V house, while the glass facade gives the building an impression of visual openness.
The houses are located next to the VM MOUNTAIN, also designed by Bjarke Ingels and Plot.
The prestigious VM MOUNTAIN contains 80 residential units all with terrace decks and luxuriant roof gardens protruding from the building's base.
As opposed to the slating walls of the VM HOUSES, the VM MOUNTAIN features more traditional dwellings in an inner-suburb neighbourhood elevated to the 11th floor with spectacular views of the city and coastal region. Terrace decks come complete with evergreen vegetation and an automatic sprinkler system designed to service the intermittently blooming perennials, not to mention the view of Ørestad and East Amager. Even the car park is unusual with its 16 metre-tall dramatically coloured walls and the residential lift moving obliquely along the inner wall of the building.
DR Concert Hall by architect Jean Nouvel
Decisive choices and big contrasts mark DR Koncerthuset. Mat, grey concrete walls play up to floors of bright steel squares, and from the glass roof in the spacious foyer there is a glimpse of the stars. The concert hall in Copenhagen's Ørestad area actually houses four different halls. Each varies in architecture and expression, ranging from the big hall in warm colours, over the cooler one in black and white, to the intimate hall in red.
The Tietgen Students' Residence
The characteristically circular Tietgen Students' Residence by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. The building was inaugurated in 2006 and contains 360 one-room studio apartments. The ground floor houses the common facilities: a café, auditorium, study and computer rooms, workshops, laundry, music and meeting rooms, and bicycle parking. The apartments are located on the other 6 stories. All rooms face outwards and have views of the surrounding area. Entering the courtyard, one sees that all the common facilities (kitchens, lounges, terraces etc.) face out on to the central courtyard, thus creating a sense of community for the building's residents.
Much attention has been given to creativity and individual expression in the design of all student rooms. The 7-storey building is intersected by five vertical cuts, dividing the the building into sections. These cuts act as passageways, providing access to the inner courtyard and to the seven floors of the Students' Residence.
Bella Sky Hotel
The most radical design of Copenhagen’s handful of newly-built hotels, the leaning towers of the 23-story Bella Sky twist away from each other—to be joined at the top by a walkway. Added to which, Bella Sky is a sustainable building; the triangular patterned facade maximizes energy efficiency.